By Raiza Giorgi
The line starts around 2 p.m. every Tuesday and by 4 p.m. there are dozens of cars, and people standing in line that are wrapped around Bethania Lutheran Church.
“When people ask me how we are doing… I think my answer of ‘managing’ is the best thing I can say right now,” said Pastor Chris Brown.
Brown said when the COVID-19 started he never expected things to get this bad. When the Stay-at-Home orders were delivered mid-March, two of his parishioners, Linda Marzullo and Donna Hinsbeeck, immediately stepped up and contacted the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to get a delivery and distribution site going. Every Tuesday from 4 – 6 p.m. everyone who is in need can come get food.
“The tireless efforts of these two women have been above and beyond. They have been so organized throughout this situation and we are so thankful we can help our community,” Brown said.
The Foodbank initially started with deliveries of around 4,000 pounds of food, and was supplemented by Amy Derryberry of Veggie Rescue with fresh produce which people desperately ask for, Brown said.
The church is also using their money to supplement with canned meats and other products like diapers, wipes, toilet paper, paper towels and laundry detergent.
“We are going through more than 4,000 diapers and 200 boxes of wipes a week,” Brown said.
At the start of this we had to keep track for the Foodbank of the households we serve and the numbers were around 700 people. In their 8th week Brown said they were serving more than 1,500 people, some of whom had never asked for any sort of assistance in their lives.
“I feel like this is when the church is the best. We have been able to do incredible things as a church finds identity in moments of crisis and remind people in those moments we can do incredible things together,” Brown said.
There are more than 60 volunteers now working two shifts to get all the bags put together in the morning and then those who hand them out in the afternoon.
The church also is home to the Solvang Blessing Box, in which is filled and emptied more than eight times a day.
“We are so thankful to Elizabeth Breen, Jen Klamn, Candice Signa and Jeni Hurnblad for their work of making sure both the Buellton and Solvang Blessing Boxes are stocked. This is a grassroots movement and I am so thankful for everyone who is coming together to help others,” Brown said.
The Foodbank will be delivering food as long as this disaster is going, and Brown said that profitable times before and frugal saving put the church in a good position to help as well, but the need is overwhelming and they ask anyone who can and is willing to donate to their Food Distribution fund.
One hundred percent of the donations will go to the community needs, Brown said.
For those who are interested in donating visit www.bethanialutheran.net and click on Donate. Make sure the Food Distribution tab is clicked as well.